Dover High School physical education teacher Robert “Bob” Healy is a man torn between two schools.


Dover High School physical education teacher Robert “Bob” Healy is a man torn between two schools.

Healy has been a highly successful teacher at Dover High, as evidenced by the testimony given by a dozen former students, colleagues and parents at the Capital Board of Education meeting Wednesday night. He has also been highly successful as the head lacrosse coach at Salesianum School, which won its second straight state championship this past spring – the fourth in six years.

Those two worlds recently came to a head when Healy was informed via a letter from the Capital School District that he had been transferred to William Henry Middle School for the 2012-2013 school year.

Healy and a dozen supporters appeared before the Capital school board Wednesday at North Dover Elementary School to appeal that involuntarily transfer.

Healy, of Dover, told the board he had been a teacher in the Capital School District for 17 years in six schools, the last eight at Dover High.

“I have 17 years of outstanding observations,” Healy said. “I have a great rapport with the students and staff. My kids are choiced to Capital because we believe this is the district [where] they’re going to get the best education.

“On June 7, I was pulled out of a final [exam] and handed a letter. They told me I was being involuntarily transferred to William Henry Middle School,” he said. “And the reason for this action is that we were placing employees at Dover High School that are willing to coach at the school. I coached at Dover High School for 10 years. I haven’t coached for eight years and in those eight years I’ve never been asked to coach again.”

Healy asked if any of his colleagues would be forced to transfer if they did not coach at the school.

“It seems like we’re putting athletics in front of education right now in a time when Dover High needs some stability with our staff. It’s definitely a concern,” he added.

His wife, Sheri Healy, another Capital employee, said Bob Healy was cited in 2011 as the teacher whose class students wanted most to take.

Board member Brian Lewis said he was blindsided by Healy’s transfer.

“Maybe, our superintendent is not informing the board of what’s going on here,” Lewis said. “Can somebody enlighten me as to what’s going on with Mr. Healy. As a board member, I think I have a right to know and I wasn’t given any information by you.”

Capital Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas said there was no information to give at this time because this was a personnel issue. The district had a process of transferring teachers, which usually take place in the summer.

“Why is this being discussed by the public tonight and I’m not aware of it?” Lewis said. “I don’t see it on the agenda.”

“Mr. Healy would have to explain why,” Thomas said.

“No, I’m asking you,” Lewis said.

“Because it’s a personnel matter and we have a process in the [teachers] contract,” Thomas said. “Mr. Healy has avenues in that contract  he can go to.”

Newly sworn in board member Matthew Lindell asked if it was past practice to move someone with 17 years of experience out of a building.

“Does the person theoretically replacing this person have more experience or something to add to the building itself?” he said.

“I appreciate the question,”  Thomas said. “This is not a personnel discussion.”

New Board President Kay Dietz-Sass said the board could not discuss personnel matters in public session per school board policy and state law.

After the meeting, Thomas said the district had the right to transfer teachers, although Healy could explore his options to appeal.

“We want people at Dover High School that want to coach at Dover High School,” he said.

But that did not stop supporters from speaking up on Healy’s behalf.

Andrew Silverman, of Dover, called Healy’s transfer “arbitrary and capricious.”

“Mr. Healy possesses from what I understand, an unblemished, disciplinary record. He routinely receives outstanding reviews and tenured  and senior educator who has proven success in a school that is currently under the Partnership Zone [a federal-state initiative to help struggling schools].”

Recently retired Capital teacher Dee Anderson Blackman told the school board that Healy’s effective manner in teaching young students in the classroom and showing them “how to be good people” gave him the right to stay at Dover High.

Also speaking up for Healy were Dover High graduates Jordan Naftzinger and Nicholas Robino.

“Mr. Healy possesses every attribute you want in a good teacher,” Naftzinger said. “He cares about his students. He goes above and beyond and he does it all for them. I do everything as a teacher and a coach that I know Mr. Healy would do.”

Dover High parent David McQuaide said two of his children graduated from Dover and loved Healy’s class. But McQuaide expressed concern with Dover High’s image, which doesn’t seem to match other area schools, and its at risk students.

“Perhaps one of the reasons is because our athletic programs are not as successful as they once were,” he said. “The coaches at Dover High need to be more than just on field coaches. They need to be in the classroom and they need to mentor these students.”

McQuaide went on to say that Dover High should offer Healy a coaching position.

Wesley College head football coach Mike Drass, a parent of a Capital sixth grader, was among the majority speaking up for Healy.

“Bob is a dedicated, hardworking individual who I grew to love over the last 20 years,” he said. “Caring is a great word; dedicated is a great word. He’s an exceptionally loyal person and I think individuals like Bob should be rewarded.”

Bob Gilmore said his son was nervous about starting at Dover next year, like many rising freshman

“There’s one thing that’s provides him with comfort and that’s Bob Healy,” he said. “To move him affects not only my son but many kids who know him because he taught their siblings.”